A CHARITY that took on a ferry service along the River Waveney has been left “saddened and outraged” after vandals attacked their boat.

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Vital equipment was smashed while unlocked items were thrown into the river as the Big Dog Ferry was targeted in Beccles on Saturday night.

The boat, which runs between the town and the Locks Inn at Geldeston, was operational again later on Sunday, but the skippers and Beccles Lido Limited (BLL), which runs the service, were upset by the attack.

Shaun Crowley, BLL chief executive said: “We are a charity and Big Dog Ferry, which we now own and run, raises valuable funds to help keep the Lido open, so we can ill afford any interruptions to the service.

“We are shocked that anybody could commit such a mindless act of vandalism. But we have been encouraged by the speed of the police investigation, and hugely gratified by the many kind messages of support from people in the town.

“Clearly Beccles will not tolerate this sort of behaviour.”

The ferry had been moored by the Lido, in Puddingmoor, after its last trip on Saturday evening, but when co-skipper Carl Murray arrived on Sunday morning for a charter trip he found the damage.

Mr Murray said: “When I arrived I found that vandals had smashed vital equipment and thrown anything that wasn’t locked down into the river.”

Co-skipper Paul Temple added: “Not only is the ferry a crucial source of funds for the Lido, but it is mine and Carl’s livelihood.”

Messages of support were sent online as supporters of the ferry and Lido showed their upset at what had happened.

Jill Walker, of Lowestoft, said: “That’s awful. It’s heartbreaking to have something like that happen after all your hard work.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous also passed on his sympathies to the skippers calling it a “disgrace” that vandals would damage the service.

The damage meant that all planned trips on Sunday had to be cancelled as repairs were carried out, however by 7pm it was up and running after the harbourmaster lent them oars while CC Marine supplied the parts.

Suffolk Police confirmed enquiries were ongoing into the stolen boat hook, mud weight and wooden oar, as well as damage to the battery power pack.

It is believed it happened between 8.30pm on Saturday and 9.15am.

The ferry which travels along the tranquil stretch of the River Waveney was brought back last year by Paul Aldis, before Beccles Lido stepped in this year after he said he could not continue to run it.

The ferry, which can carry up to 12 passengers, offers a tranquil 40 minute journey between the town and village, with kingfishers, marsh harriers and otters among the wildlife often spotted.

Anyone with any information is asked to call PC 1727 Bemment on 101.

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